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Citing in part the detaining of a Greyhound bus passenger in Indio by border patrol agents without a warrant, the American Civil Liberties Union Wednesday sent a letter to Greyhound calling on the company to stop allowing immigration officials to randomly board buses to search passengers.

According to the ACLU, such “warrantless raids” are being conducted by immigration agents “with the agreement of Greyhound,” and the searches are comparable to actions of “police states.”

The Indio search occurred last month, when a Los Angeles resident boarded a Greyhound bus in Indio, then was detained because his “shoes looked suspicious,” according to the ACLU. Because his shoes looked “like someone who had recently crossed the border,” agents questioned the man regarding his immigration status.

The incident was one of many the ACLU of Southern California says it has received out of Riverside County, though the ACLU’s letter to Greyhound headquarters also addressed similar reports out of Washington, Vermont, New York, Michigan, Florida and Arizona. The ACLU affiliates of New Hampshire, Maine and Texas also joined the drafting of the letter.

“Greyhound is in the business of transporting its passengers safely from place to place,” said Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrants’ right for the ACLU Foundations of California. “It should not be in the business of subjecting its passengers to intimidating interrogations, suspicion-less searches, warrantless arrests and the threat of deportation.”

Greyhound issued a statement earlier this year saying the company was required to cooperate with law enforcement agents that demand to board the buses, but the ACLU claims agents can be denied access if they lack probable cause. Allowing immigration agents to detain passengers without probable cause is a violation of the passengers’ Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure, the ACLU argued.

Protesters are planning a variety of events this Friday at Greyhound stations across Southern California, including a 10 a.m. rally at the Indio Greyhound station, at 83100 Indio Blvd.

–City News Service